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Learning to empower, lead and excel

Four Lincoln County students learned leadership skills at a conference in Jackson earlier this month.

Lincoln County students Luci Leblanc of Brookhaven Academy, Layna Myers of Loyd Star, and JoAnna Petty and Gracee Warren of West Lincoln attended the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) Conference, which was held June 1-3 at Millsaps College. The theme of this year’s conference was Empower-Lead-Excel.

“I learned how to be a better leader,” West Lincoln student Gracee Warren said.  “Leadership isn’t just telling people what to do, but it’s cooperation.”

The four sophomores attended this year’s conference after completing the selection process at their individual schools.  To be chosen, the participants were required to fill out a registration form and write a short essay.

HOBY was founded in 1958 by humanitarian Hugh O’Brian.  The conference is designed to help rising high school juniors develop their leadership abilities and equip them to become effective leaders.

“They taught us a lot more than being a leader — they taught us to put ourselves out there, be who you are and stand up for your beliefs,” Myers said.

During the seminar, the students participated in interactive activities, workshops and a community service project that were designed for students to find their strengths in leadership.

Leadership is presented from three different perspectives, and then students cultivate their skills so they may lead others.  After the three-day seminar, students leave with the confidence and knowledge to lead and make a positive impact on others.

“I was nervous, but I learned so much,” Leblanc said.  “It’s amazing, you really do learn things to become a leader. I really enjoyed it.”

To join HOBY, sophomores should visit the guidance counselor at their school.  The registration fee varies across the country.  HOBY takes place between May and June each year, and the seminar is three or four days.

HOBY programs are conducted throughout the United States.  The organization gives students the opportunity to participate in unique leadership and service training that instills a lifelong dedication to live selflessly and serve others.

“I learned all the real things about being a leader and made friends while I was there,” Petty said.  “The community service we did really opened my eyes.  I definitely learned some stuff, and going to the HOBY conference changed me for the better.”

Story by Gracie Byrne